For most Americans, Thanksgiving has been as a celebration of giving, a day of thanks—thankful to be surrounded by family and friends. For many Native people, however, the Thanksgiving holiday is associated with a national celebration of “taking,” and is a constant reminder of the colonialization that led to land theft, reservation confinement, and historical atrocities.
The U.S. has long treated Indian religion and creation stories as quaint myths, but it sure holds dearly to its own mythical stories of creation. The colonizer’s myth of the first Thanksgiving is a delightful story where Native nations of the east broke bread with the colonists of the “new world.” Native peoples, however, know the full fabrication of the historical circumstances surrounding this celebration. But one thing that cannot be forgotten is the central role that food plays in this historical pageant. Food takes center stage in this narrative because Native peoples were in control of their food.
Connecting the dots between vibrant Native food systems and economies, however, is far from complicated. Agricultural and food-systems production provided the backbone of trade and exchange for most Indian nations. One aspect of American history rarely receives attention was the U.S. government’s strategy to deliberately starve Indians into submission by deliberately destroying their food systems—whether it was George Washington’s torching of hundreds of thousands of bushels of Iroquois corn, or the willful destruction of the fields and orchards of the Apache and Pueblo people.
Roughly 400 years after this first Thanksgiving, many Native peoples are dependent upon public assistance to eat, including the USDA’s commodity food program. Statistics also tell us that Native people in 22 states receive commodity food, and that approximately one in four Native households is “food insecure,” and do not have enough to eat. Moreover, another one in 10 households is experiencing hunger. We can easily connect the dots between the current state of Native food systems, and Indian peoples’ lack of control, and horrifying Native health statistics.
The way Indian people and Indian nations unconsciously and consciously purchase and eat food should put food systems back as the centerpiece of strategies for food-system restoration, improved economies, and health care, because the loss of traditional diet and adoption of diets high in fat and refined sugars have made Indians more susceptible to the unholy trilogy of diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
Health studies show that six of 10 Native Americans are likely to develop type 2 diabetes—mostly the result of poor dietary health—and have higher instances of obesity and heart disease. It is troubling that diabetes was essentially unknown among Indians in 1912, and still clinically nonexistent in 1930. Today, Indians suffer diabetes more than twice the national average (some places, the rate is much higher), and it is consuming more and more American Indian health-care resources. A final startling fact, from “State of the Science: A Cultural View of Native Americans and Diabetes Prevention.” In it Edwards and Patchell alarmingly report that per-capita health care expenditures in 2003 were $3,803 for each federal prisoner, but only $1,914 per capita in the federal allotment to Indian Health Services. How can we not conclude that spending priorities on health are directly linked to access to care and health outcomes.
At First Nations, we believe that preservation and resurrection of traditional diet is important to the health and healthy economies of Indian country, including food traditions. Agricultural holdings of Native tribes and communities, including range and cropland, constitute more than 47 million of the 54 million acres of Indian trust l. Additionally, tribes own rights to billions of acre-feet of water rights. Together this could afford a strong incentive for renewing Native food systems and food sovereignty. Unfortunately, 70 percent of Indian cropland is leased to non-Indians, as are 20 percent of rangelands, reducing Native control of their food systems. The 8,000 Indian farmers operating on reservations produce few crops for local consumption. This lack of control is at the heart of First Nations’ Native agriculture and food work, and healthy economies and communities built on sound and historically-proven cultural beliefs. Today, we are beginning to see Native communities starting to reclaim control of their food systems.
Many reservation communities lack a vibrant private sector, preventing the economic multiplier effect that benefits most other economies, where one dollar introduced into an economy becomes worth $2 or $3. In many reservation communities, those dollars do not recirculate.
We believe that Indian nations’ controlled food systems is a logical first step. Everyone, even poor people, spend 30 percent to 40 percent of their income on food. A 5,000-person community, with a per-capita income of $8,000, spends between $12 million and $16 million annually on food. This could translate to $25 million to $50 million to the economy, with the side benefit of improved nutrition and health expenditure savings.
We believe that the time is now to restore Indian communities’ control of the assets they own. In doing so, how can we ignore the role of Native-controlled food systems as an opportunity for both healthy bodies and healthy economies for Indian country?
Michael E. Roberts is the president of the First Nations Development Institute.
It cannot be doubted the turning-point in Israel’s latest murderous rampage.
It came when Hamas leader Khaled Meshal taunted Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Go ahead, attack!
At that moment Netanyahu stood exposed in all his nakedness.
The bluff had been called.
Only the ninth-rate hacks at the New York Times preserved until the last second the fiction that the IDF still stood poised for an offensive. Isabel Kershner, the ex-beautician from Sderot Coiffures, whose only known scholarly work is The Complete History of Mah Jong Tournaments in the Catskills, dutifully repeated the party line that Netanyahu held back on the ground offensive because he of course preferred a diplomatic solution.
Just like Genghis Khan.
Israel couldn’t attack because the population won’t accept any IDF casualties, while the presence of foreign journalists and the honor of Egypt and Turkey prevented Israel from fighting in its usual style: the scorched-earth destruction of everything and everyone in its path, no questions asked.
The 2006 Lebanon War ended when Hezbollah escalated its rocket attacks on Israel’s heartland, while Israel dreaded the prospect of a ground invasion on the terrain of the Party of God. So, Israel called on the U.S.to bail it out and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice engineered a U.N. resolution, which she had blocked during the first weeks of the Israeli massacre–or, what this Witch from the Pits of Hell called the “birth pangs of a new Middle East.”
This time it’s Scarecrow Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who is flying in to rescue Israel from another debacle, as Hamas escalated its–albeit, largely symbolic–retaliatory strikes.
It’s unlikely that Palestinians will win much in the ceasefire–the interests of Egypt, Turkey and Qatar, on the one hand, and the Palestinians on the other, diverge more than they converge.
But still, the IDF’s Achilles heel has once again been revealed, and consequently, although Tel Aviv’s proclaimed goal in launching the attack on Gaza was to enhance its “deterrence capacity”–i.e., its capacity to terrorize the Arab/Muslim world into submission–in fact, under the supremely stupid leadership of Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Israel emerges with a diminished deterrence capacity.
No doubt, these Draculas are thrilled at the sight of the rubble and corpses in Gaza.
But they cannot be pleased that all the world now knows just how cowardly they are.
In the end, notwithstanding its super-space-age arsenal of death, the IDF trembled at the prospect of engaging the weaponless men, women and children of Gaza.
It was a prudent move on Netanyahu’s part.
The Ubermenschen of Israel’s Wehrmacht would probably have been slaughtered.
by Richard Silverstein on November 19, 2012 · 67 comments
Day 6: 95 Palestinians killed, 720 wounded.
The title of this post is harsh. But the one I first considered was even more so: “Barack Obama, go to Hell.” I am so glad I didn’t vote for this man for president. At the time I cast my vote I did it thinking I was doing the right thing. But in my heart regretting it. If I had voted for him, now I my heart would be turning bitter as gall.
Here is what this sorry excuse for a leader had to say today in Thailand:
“[T]here is no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders. So we are fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself from missiles landing on people’s homes…
Let’s understand what the precipitating event here was that’s causing the current crisis, and that was an ever-escalating number of missiles that were landing not just in Israeli territory but in areas that are populated.”
I also discovered this statement which appears to have been made separately and covers related, but different ground:
“Israel has every right to expect that it does not have missiles fired into its territory,” President Barack Obama said at a news conference in Bangkok at the start of a three-nation visit to Asia.
“If that can be accomplished without a ramping up of military activity in Gaza, that’s preferable,” Obama said. “It’s not just preferable for the people of Gaza. It’s also preferable for Israelis, because if Israeli troops are in Gaza, they’re much more at risk of incurring fatalities or being wounded.”
Let’s address this lame excuse for a political argument. First, it could’ve been (and possibly was) drafted by an Aipac staffer. It’s directly taken from pro-Israel talking points. You’ve heard the same bullshit from Michael Oren a hundred times. What this argument omits is that Israel has Gaza in a stranglehold. It has turned the enclave into a virtual prison having no economy, no exports, no ability to travel in or out. Gaza is occupied in effect by Israel. This occupation is illegal. Any nation has a right to resist such an occupation.
I do not support firing missiles from Gaza into Israel. But I do not support Israel’s occupation of Gaza either. I do not expect Gazans to roll over and play dead for Israel’s benefit or for the benefit of a U.S. president who has his head up his ass.
The real issue isn’t whether Israel has a right to attack Gaza. The issue is how to get at the root causes of this conflict and resolve it. F-16s, drones, targeted assassinations and helicopter gunships only kick the football farther down the road, as Mitt Romney so aptly put it (who’d have ever thought that Obama would actually follow a Mideast policy outlined by Romney).
Obama says he’s opposed to an Israeli invasion not because many Gazans will be killed (he clearly doesn’t care about that) but because Israelis will die. Have you ever heard anything so callous? Yes, I suppose in all the history of this conflict there have been far more callous statements. But by a U.S. president? Not so many.
Barack Obama: go to Hell. You don’t give a damn. You don’t have a moral bone in your body. Give back that Nobel Peace Prize. You don’t deserve it. In fact, you’ve pissed on it and turned it from gold to (cast) lead.
Former Israeli national security advisor Gen. Giora Eiland, on the other hand, made an amazingly forthright statement about what should be the outline for a fair resolution of the current impasse in Gaza. For that reason, of course, it will be ignored by those in power. But it still deserves a fair hearing:
“Israel’s bottom line interest toward Gaza is a security issue – that they won’t fire at us,” said Eiland, who also served as the head of Israel’s National Security Council. “Consequently, if we can reach an arrangement, it’s preferable to give ground on certain political issues in exchange for a better security arrangement.”
This sort of agreement would include “a mutual cease-fire and an Egyptian guarantee of not just quiet, but also that no weapons will enter Gaza,” Eiland said, adding that “this arrangement would be guaranteed by additional parties, for example, Qatar and Turkey.”
Among the political compromises that could be made in exchange for such a security arrangement, Eiland listed lifting the naval blockade of Gaza “so that the European Union member countries could send under supervision dinghies into Gaza’s port.”
Eiland also suggested that Israel recognize Gaza as a state under Hamas’ rule. “This is a country a ruled by an elected government and I expect that this government will act in a responsible manner, like a state would,” Eiland said.
“It’s not enough to say ‘Hamas will surrender,’” Eiland continued. “We need to give something, if not to Hamas, then to others. It’s impossible to reach a point where one side will surrender. Sometimes we become captive to slogans like ‘We won’t talk with Hamas.’ I say the opposite. It’s a fact that Hamas rules Gaza and that Gaza is a state. We need to recognize this and utilize the advantages this situation presents.”
The thinking is that if Israel recognizes Hamas as ruler of Gaza, it will place the onus on the Islamist group to run Gaza and fully control what happens there. In effect, Eiland is saying to make Hamas put their money where their mouth is: you want to rule this place–do it. And if you don’t, we and the world community who are enforcing this agreement will hold you accountable.
There is also a strategic element to his thinking that is unspoken. If Israel breaks Palestine into two entities, then Palestinian strength and aspirations for statehood will be even more fragmented than they are now. Hamas will have less interest in creating a coalition government with Fatah because it will control its own fiefdom in Gaza. The West Bank and Gaza may be permanently severed. That part of Eiland’s strategy is pernicious in the long-term. But it doesn’t mean that much of what he’s saying wouldn’t make things better than they are now in Gaza itself.
I can’t tell you how refreshing this breeze is. It’s a bit of truth. And coming from a general bristling with medals and lots of dead Israeli enemies under his belt. This is not some peacenik or “Arab lover.” This is the very same dude who whitewashed the Mavi Marmara massacre on behalf of the IDF, for whom he investigated it.
I do have to say though that there’s a strange dynamic at work in Israeli politics: when you’re an official and within the system, you lie and say things that make you and your country sound like an idiot. When you leave the system, all of a sudden you become a seer and things you didn’t appear to know or couldn’t say come tripping off your tongue. The same phenomenon occurred with Ehud Olmert after he resigned his prime ministership. While he was in office he tried to sell Mahmoud Abbas a bill of goods in the guise of a legitimate peace agreement. After he left, he called the settlements a cancer eating at Israel’s insides.
So some of this may be at work in Eiland’s change of heart, if you can call it that. But who cares? Truth is truth whether it comes from a sane person or a mad man.
Something further that is interesting here is that Eiland is making these statements–ones that cut to the heart of the weakness of Israel’s “mowing the grass” approach to Gaza–only five days after the start of hostilities and even before the expected invasion. In other words, the general is already saying the emperor has no clothes. The way this usually works is that the critics wait until a few weeks in after the soldiers and civilians have started dying in significant numbers. That’s the time when the body politic becomes more receptive to such contrarian thinking. So Eiland is bucking this trend and deserves credit for doing so.
al-Dalou family children massacred in Gaza (Harry Fear)
When you read the following you will understand my outrage directed against Barack Obama. Today should be the Kfar Kana or the al-Samouni moment in this war. The former was the tragedy during the 2006 war when Israel attacked a Lebanese village near a UN base killing scores of civilians. After that atrocity, the war was essentially over though Israel didn’t realize it at the time. My fear is that the murder of 12 Gaza civilians in a bombing that flattened a 3-story apartment building filled with civilians will not be enough of a tragedy to end this growing madness. More of the innocent may have to die before the world tells Israel: Dayenu!
The al-Dalou family was sheltering in its home from the bombardment. Earlier, two male family members had left to procure supplies because they feared an imminent invasion. They survived. Five women, four children (all between two and five years-old) and two men died. One of the women was 81 years old:
Khalil al-Dallu screams. “They said Mohammed was alive!” he shouts as emergency workers pull the body of a young man from a Gaza City home levelled by an Israeli strike on Sunday. His face quickly crumples into tears as the emergency staff tell him that his cousin is in fact dead — one of six members of the Dallu family killed when an Israeli missile struck the Nasser neighbourhood, flattening the three-story building where they lived.
“The whole family is martyred!” he cries, as the body of 35-year-old Mohammed al-Dallu is placed in an ambulance.
“What was the sin of the children and the infants, Israel?” he screams, raising his hands to the sky.
The emergency workers carry on with their grim task. By the time their work is done they have pulled 11 bodies from the pancaked building and others around it. The body of Mohammed’s wife is also retrieved, as well as those of five of their children. The body of another woman, also a family member, is also pulled out although she is not immediately identified.
The strike has also killed two of their neighbours from the Muzzana family.
Mohammed’s father, Jamal, and his 17-year-old son Abdullah, are among the survivors. When the Israeli strike happened, they were out buying food to boost the family’s stocks because they feared an Israeli ground invasion.
Jamal leans on a bloody electricity pole for support, overwhelmed at the horror and loss in front of him, his relatives crowding around as pieces of his grandchildren are plucked from their former home. Near hysterical with anger and sorrow, Ibrahim shouts: “Don’t tell his brother Abdullah, the trauma will kill him!” The brother, 26-year-old Abdullah, is currently studying in Turkey to become a doctor.
… Ahmed Hato, 13, is still dazed by the sudden death visited on the family.”I was playing with the sons of the neighbours at the entrance to the street. There was a huge explosion, the earth shook and dust and rocks went everywhere. I don’t know how, but I ended up on the ground and without injuries,” he says.
Ahmed’s father can’t watch the rescue efforts, and doesn’t answer his phone. Instead he cries openly for Mohammed, whom he saw just an hour before the strike. Mohammed, a Hamas police officer, “was a good man, moral and kind to everyone,” he says. “Everyone loved him. His death is a huge loss for the family.”
It turns out, as it often does in these sorts of IDF incursions, that the IAF was trying to assassinate the head of Hamas’ rocket warfare unit, Yechiya Rabiah (must be the guy who took over from Dirar Abusisi after his “forced retirement” at the hands of the Mossad and Ukrainian intelligence), who lives nearby. Ooops, they got the wrong house. Another intelligence failure. Only killed 12 innocent civilians as a result. Terribly regrettable. But if Rabiah would only do the IDF the favor of living in an open field so it could kill him cleanly, these sorts of things wouldn’t have to happen. You know how that Hamas uses civilians as human shields.
What created even more bitter irony is that just as when it dropped a bunker buster bomb during the 2006 war on Hassan Nasrallah’s Beirut hiding place, the IDF crowed that it’d taken out yet another terrorist bad guy. Turns out that Nasrallah and Rabiah are very much alive. What do you say in the midst of such insanity: woops?
Even an IDF journalist-stenographer like Avi Issacharoff writing in Haaretz concedes the Gaza operation is “starting to get into trouble” because too many civilians are dying. All I can say is boker tov buddy, civilians were dying from the first moment of the fighting. It’s just that now they’re starting to pile up like cordwood. But if Issacharoff wants to wake up only today on day six, it’s better than sleep walking through an entire war before realizing 1,400 Gazans have been slaughtered as happened during Cast Lead.
At what point does Barack Obama become moved enough, or boxed in enough by this suffering that he’s finally got to get off his ass and do something?
By the way, Israeli polls find that while 90% of Israelis support the Gaza war (only 16% support a ceasefire), only 46% support an invasion while 32% are opposed. That’s a sizable minority viewpoint.